Plastic Bag Ban FAQ

EFFECTIVE DATE: June 1, 2017

The Minneapolis City Council voted in an ordinance entitled “Single-Use Plastic and Recyclable Paper Carryout Bags” to be effective beginning June 1st, 2017. They have cited the purpose of the ordinance is to reduce litter, waste, lifecycle environmental impacts, and negative impacts on recycling facilities of single-use bags and incentivize Minneapolis consumers to use reusable bags.

Single use plastic bags will not be allowed, paper bags must be 40% recycled material and have notice of such on the exterior of the bag, and a fee or donation must accompany paper bags.

Does this rule apply to me?

Yes. Any person, business, facility, agency, vendor or organization in Minneapolis that provides food, merchandise or goods are affected. Continue reading for usage exemptions and options.

Which bags are banned?

Carryout bags provided at the check stand, cash register, point of sale or other point of departure to a customer for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the establishment. Specifically, plastic bags that are neither intended nor suitable for continuous reuse may no longer be used.

Are there exemptions for specific types of bags or uses?

Yes.

  1. Non-handled bags used inside store for bulk purchases
    1. Food Use (such as produce, bakery items, bulk foods, frozen or raw meats or other unwrapped prepared foods)
    2. For prescription drugs
    3. Where dampness may be a problem (potted plants, flowers, paper products such as greeting cards or print work)
  2. Bags used to safeguard public health during transportation of:
    1. Prepared take-out foods
    2. Prepared liquids intended for consumption
  3. Newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags, bags used to protect fine art paper, or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or yard waste.
  4. Bags deemed reusable that meet all three requirements:
    1. Plastic bags at least 4 mils thick
    2. Bags specifically designed with a minimum of 75 uses over its lifetime
    3. Bags able to carry a minimum of 18 pounds

Can I use compostable plastic?

Yes.

Compostable bags must meet ASTM D6400 standard and be certified for compostability by the Biodegradable Products Institute and display the BPI logo.

Can I use paper bags instead?

Yes, but…

  1. Paper bags used must contain a minimum average of 40% post-consumer recycled materials, and must display the minimum percent of post-consumer content on the outside of the bag.
  2. You must charge a pass-through fee of minimum of 5 cents for each paper bag provided to customers/clients. It is a violation of the ordinance to pay or reimburse the customer for any portion of this fee.
  3. The pass through charge must be itemized on the transaction receipt, showing the number of paper, compostable and/or reusable bags provided, and the total amount of the pass-through charge.

Do I have to charge a paper bag fee if my primary use is exempt from the plastic ban?

Yes.

Any business, whether offering paper bags for food or goods, must charge the minimum 5-cent fee.

User Exemption.

It is important to note that you are not required to collect the pass-through charge from anyone with a voucher or electronic benefits card issued under the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) support programs, or the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or a recognized Minnesota food assistance program.

Is there any way I can avoid the paper bag fee?

Yes. You may instead choose to contribute 5 cents per paper carryout, compostable carryout or reusable bag provided to customers to a recognized non-profit organization to fund litter cleanup and waste reduction initiatives within the City of Minneapolis.

But. City officials would be authorized to monitor and ensure compliance with the requirements of this through the “utilization of reasonable and lawful auditing, reporting and recordkeeping requirements.”

Enforcement

Violations of this ordinance may be enforced as administrative offenses, and you may be issued an administrative citation. The ordinance also provides that enforcement may take place through a host of civil, administrative or criminal remedies. City staff have until January 31st, 2017 to report back with recommendations for implementing and enforcing the ordinance.

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